Small Business Profile: Local Food Adventures
Free trips feed owner Lauren McCabe Herpich's daily Chase card use
Erica Sandberg is a prominent personal finance authority and author of “Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families.” She writes “Small Business Credit Profiles,” a weekly column featuring small business owners' journey with credit and credit cards for CreditCards.com.
The Bay Area is home to many famous restaurants, but Oakland and its neighboring communities give San Francisco some healthy competition, especially in terms of value and diversity.
Which is why Lauren McCabe Herpich decided to launch Local Food Adventures, a walking tour company that highlights the region’s hidden culinary gems. “It’s a rich and vibrant food scene here, and I want to share it with everyone, whether you’re a local or a visitor,” says Herpich.
Her passion for the business began in college when she worked as a campus guide at the University of Arizona. While earning her master’s degree from Northwestern University, she gave guided food tours in Chicago. Her destination wedding in Napa Valley inspired the couple to relocate to California. They landed in the East Bay. To establish roots and support her new neighborhood's small businesses, Herpich started the Rockridge Food Tour, and when her son Connor was born, it transitioned into Local Food Adventures, which received the "Best Walking Tour in the East Bay" award by Diablo Magazine.
Running a thriving touring company, however, comes with a stream of operating costs. Here’s how Herpich uses her credit cards to make sure her growing body of hungry clients will always have a delicious experience.
Did you use credit cards in the beginning of your venture?
Yes. I'm proud to say that I created my website and marketing materials entirely on my own. But I definitely needed to use a credit card for things like business insurance, web hosting, printed materials and to open a couple of house accounts with local businesses where I take my guests.
I initially used a personal Chase Sapphire credit card for all expenses as I loved the rewards program and had been an accountholder since 2005. When I registered my business, I decided to keep using Chase and open a Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card.
What role do credit cards currently play in your business operations?
Now I practically charge everything regarding my business to my Chase Ink Business credit card, including my annual business insurance policy, web hosting, monthly phone bill, Gmail account fees, Mailchimp account, printing of marketing materials, parking and Lyft expenses. I also use it for business meals with existing and potential tour stops and an annual industry-related conference I attend every year, so that includes airfare, hotel and related expenses.
So not only do I use my credit card to pretty much pay for everything and rack up a lot of rewards points, but by doing so it makes it really easy to keep track of expenses and do my monthly bookkeeping as practically all of my financial activity is in one place.
What are you trading all those rewards points in for?
I rack up a lot of points every year. It’s enough to redeem approximately four round-trip coast-to-coast tickets each year through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
This has been such a win-win-win for me, my business and my family. We use my points to book our flights back to the East Coast for the holidays as well as a personal trip for just me.
Any advice regarding credit cards for other small business owners?
As long as you can pay off your credit card every month, which I do, using a rewards-based business card is a great way to pay for expenses and keep all expenses in one place. You can then treat yourself and your family to some travel or even a cool experience.
But this strategy is not new for me. Before starting my business, I did redeem points I earned from my personal Chase Sapphire card to treat my now-husband to a private golf lesson with PGA tour player Steve Stricker at the Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago. This was a Chase Sapphire rewards experience.
So, if you handle your personal and business cards the same way, you’ll always come out ahead!